In 2000, President Bill Clinton vetoed a bill that would have criminalized all unauthorized leaks of classified information.1 In his veto message, Clinton agreed that “unauthorized disclosures can be extraordinarily harmful to United States national security interests and that far too many disclosures occur.” But the bill failed, in his view, to balance national security interests with “the rights of citizens to receive the information necessary for democracy to work.” The bill threatened to chill even “appropriate public discussion [or] press briefings” by Government officials. Similarly, it could have “restrain[ed] the ability of former government officials to teach, write, or engage in any activity aimed at building public understanding of complex issues.” Clinton called these risks “unnecessary and inappropriate in a society built on freedom of expression and the consent of the governed,” and “particularly inadvisable in a context in which the range of classified materials is so extensive.”2
"Whistleblowers, Leaks, and the Media: The First Amendment and National Security,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 6, Article 21.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol6/iss1/21